GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The recipe used by the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team to keep making its satisfying concoction on the road this season has two prime ingredients.
The goaltenders, sophomores Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel, have combined for a 95.2 save percentage, while the penalty killers have a 90.5 success rate en route a 6-1-3 record during the first 10 outings.
That combination gave way to a bland, but palatable meal Friday night when the Badgers came away with a 1-1 overtime draw with seventh-ranked North Dakota in their Western Collegiate Hockey Association series opener before a sellout crowd of 11,864 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Peterson was credited with 21 saves and stayed perfect on the road (4-0-1) this season. The penalty killers, meanwhile, weren’t perfect, but they shut down three straight North Dakota power plays — including one in the 5-minute extra session — to keep an impressive streak intact.
Nineteenth-rated UW (11-8-6 overall, 8-5-6 with 22 points in league play) improved its unbeaten streak against WCHA opponents to 11 games (8-0-3) and will try and keep it going in the series finale tonight. The program record is 13 games (8-0-5) set in 2003-04.
Junior right winger Michael Mersch accounted for the lone conversion and junior center Mark Zengerle set it up for his 100th career point in 97 outings on a night when the old rivals waged a feisty duel that produced 28 penalties for 99 minutes.
"I haven’t seen scuffles like that in a long time," UW coach Mike Eaves said after his club was assessed 14 penalties for 44 minutes, both season highs.
"It was just a good game in general," Mersch said. "A lot of heat. A lot of passion."
The clubs began the night tied for fourth place and now find themselves with company. Denver is now in the mix with 22 points, five behind front-running St. Cloud State.
The Badgers will take the point, of course, but the only thing colder than their power play was the air temperature outside, which never ventured above zero during the day and was minus-9 when the game ended
UW failed to convert on a 5-minute man-advantage late in the third and another in overtime, making it 1-for-34 (2.9 percent) on the road, including a drought of 32 straight that spans 10 games.
Eaves blamed the latest misadventures on the absence of senior center Derek Lee, who didn’t make the trip while recovering from a concussion, and sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe, who was in the penalty box for a good chunk of the 5-minute sequence and was thrown into the mix cold.
"There was a lot of running around," Mersch said. "I think we could have had a little more poise with the puck."
All the offense was crammed into a 13-second span of the second period.
UW faced just its fourth deficit on the road this season when left winger Danny Kristo converted on the power play 25 seconds into the session. His shot from the left circle had just enough steam to burrow between Peterson’s pads and ease over the goal line.
But the Badgers got it back on the ensuing shift when Zengerle outraced a defender to the puck in the left corner and fed Mersch, who went left to right to beat goaltender Zane Gothberg (29 saves) on a wrap-around with 38 seconds gone.
"That’s the best response you can get," Eaves said.
North Dakota (13-8-6, 8-5-6, 22 points) saw its winless streak extended to five games (0-2-3) in part because it couldn’t put together a sustained attack.
"They clog up the neutral zone really well," Kristo said of the Badgers. "They’re one of the best-structured teams we’ve played. They’re one of the most frustrating teams to play."
Peterson had moments of weirdness and luck.
Four minutes into the game, North Dakota center Corban Knight had a wide-open shot from the low slot, but he launched it over the net. During the same sequence, Peterson acted as if the carom had gone out of play, so he relaxed. Knight wound up with another high-grade shot at an open cage, but it hit Peterson in the skate and angled out of harm’s way.
With 36.5 seconds left in the second, Peterson denied defenseman Derek Forbort from the left point and recovered in a heartbeat to muzzle a point-blank try by center Carter Rowney.
Peterson said he wasn’t aware of his unbeaten record on the road.
"Once my number’s called, I’ve got to be ready to play," he said.
Wisconsin 0 1 0 0 — 1
North Dakota 0 1 0 0 — 1
First period: Penalties: St. Clair, ND, 10:42; Woods, W, 10:42; Zengerle, W, 18:27.
Second period: ND — Kristo 16 (Simpson, Gleason), :25 (pp). W — Mersch 16 (Zengerle), :38. Penalties: Ramage, W, 2:10; Barnes, W, 8:35; Grimaldi, ND (double minor), 19:58; Simonelli, W (double minor), 19:58; Knight, ND, 20:00; MacWilliam, ND (double minor; 10-minute misconduct), 20:00; Dahl, W, 20:00; McCabe, W (double minor; 10-minute misconduct), 20:00.
Third period: Penalties: Pattyn, ND, 1:35; St. Clair, ND, 13:30; Drake, W, 13:30; Caggiula, ND (5-minute major, 10-minute game misconduct, checking from behind; served by Senkbeil), 13:30; St. Clair, ND (double minor, 10-minute misconduct), 13:30; Drake, W (double minor, 10-minute misconduct), 13:30.
Overtime: Penalties: Ma. MacMillan, ND, 1:23; Schulze, W, 3:19.
Saves: W (Peterson 7-10-4-0) 21; ND (Gothberg 7-8-10-4) 29.
Power play: W 0-for-3; ND 1-for-4. Att. — 11,864.